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Palestinian security services detain two journalists in the West Bank

Sami Sa'ee (L) and Mohammad Saeed Jahabsheh (R)
Sami Sa'ee (L) and Mohammad Saeed Jahabsheh (R)

MADA

This statement was originally published on madacenter.org on 13 February 2017.

After two journalists were arrested and detained by Palestinian Security Services in the West Bank during the month of February, the Palestinian center for development and media freedoms (MADA) expressed its deep concern over violations of the right to freedom of expression.

On 2 February 2017, Palestinian intelligence officers arrested Sami Sa'ee, a Palestinian editor at Al Fajer TV in Tulkarem under the pretext of "inciting sectarian strife" over Facebook. On 9 February, he was transferred to the Jericho detention center. One day earlier, his lawyer had received news of his release on bail, according to his wife's testimony to MADA.

"The Palestinian intelligence forces summoned Sami on 1 February 2017," she said. "He presented himself at their office the next day and was arrested. I learned from his lawyer that he was accused with inciting sectarian strife on Facebook on 5 February. They extended his detention for 15 days upon the request of the intelligence department."

On 8 February, a decision to release him on bail of 1000 Jordanian Dinars was issued, upon the request of his lawyer Jamil Jandab. "We were shocked that the decision was not implemented," said his wife. Instead, on 9 February, Sa'ee was transferred to Jericho detention center without disclosure of reasons. On 12 February his wife and his lawyer filed a written complaint to the General Attorney through the Musawa center. They are still awaiting a response.

Journalist Mohammad Saeed Jahabsheh is a program presenter at Radio Maria based in Hebron. He was arrested in a brutal manner from his home on 9 February and detained for two days, he told MADA.

"A troop of Palestinian intelligence forces raided my house at midnight," he said. "They removed the window pane without providing a search warrant, they confiscated both my wife's and my mobile, as well as my laptop. They took me to the intelligence office in Hebron, without providing a subpoena. Everything that happened was accompanied with physical assaults and beating, I was detained there in a cell till Friday morning, I was then transferred to another room for interrogation, they managed to receive a list that disclosed all numbers of people I contacted recently. The interrogator objected to a recent phone call with the police spokesperson in Gaza, Ayman Al-Batniji, although I informed him that I am a journalist and we were planning to host him on our program. The interrogator checked all messages on my mobile, and managed to retrieve all deleted photos even the ones deleted 4 years earlier."

"I was detained till Saturday, 11 February 2017," he continued. "As they did not find anything suspicious in my phone calls, messages or even photos that can convict me. I was released after being handed a summons for Wednesday 15 February."

MADA demands the release of journalist Sami Al-Sa'ee following a recent decision to release him on bail, and to stop prosecuting and arresting journalists in relation to freedom of expression and opinion.

MADA also demands of all Palestinian security services to put an immediate end to all types of violations against Palestinian journalists.

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